In "The Black Cat" what allows the narrator to rest peacefully following the disposal of his wife's body?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One might think that having his wife safely concealed from detecting eyes might give him the most peace of mind.  While he does think he "cleaned up" quite well, and is resting easy about the detection of her body, what gives him the most peace, calm and satisfaction is something else entirely.  After he bestows of his wife's body in the walls, he sets about finding the black cat that has caused him so much trouble.  He looks and looks, but the cat is nowhere to be found.  He describes his relief at this:

"It is impossible to describe, or to imagine, the deep, the blissful sense of relief which the absence of the detested creature occasioned in my bosom...I soundly and tranquilly slept; aye, slept even with the burden of murder upon my soul!...Once again I breathed as a free-man...My happiness was supreme! The guilt of my dark deed disturbed me but little."

This rather unexpected and disturbing quote reveals that he is not even bothered by the fact that he murdered his wife, and is totally and completely happy and relieved that the black cat appeared to have disappeared, never to return.  It is the absence of the "tormenter" of the black cat that gives him peace of mind, the feeling of freedom, and total joy.  He is almost giddy with the relief.  It's an interesting reaction to just having murdered one's wife, but for him, it is enough.  I hope that those thoughts helped; good luck!